The Orlando Magic are at the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night in a game that everyone should be paying attention to.
Yeah, I said it.
Both teams seem poised to land firmly in the NBA lottery this season — the Magic’s current stretch winning eight of 10 games aside — but they are two of the best sources of fantasy basketball and NBA betting value in the NBA right now.
They are two of my favorite teams to see on the NBA schedule in any given night, and for fantasy purposes, they have a plethora of consistently undervalued players that could be either trade targets, fantasy streaming options or low-priced DFS producers on a nightly basis basis If you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on in Orlando and Detroit, here’s a quick primer.
With the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Magic were widely expected to pick Jabari Smith Jr. up until just before draft night when it leaked they were going to pick Paolo Banchero instead. Banchero has proven himself to be the most NBA-ready contributor of this class, and barring a catastrophic injury he should run away with the Rookie of the Year vote. Yet, somehow he is consistently undervalued in player scoring props.
On Wednesday, according to Caesar’s Sports Books, Banchero’s scoring line is set at 19.5 points. Banchero is averaging 21.1 PPG on the season, and out of 28 games, he’s scored 20 or more 20 times.
This type of thing has been happening with Banchero all season; his scoring lines were set between 13.5 points and 18.5 points for his first five or six NBA games, all of which he scored at least 20 points. As mentioned, he’s becoming one of my favorite players to see on the schedule, just because he’s almost always great value. But, he’s not alone in that for the Magic.
Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has returned from injury and is playing strong basketball. He’s been one of the best thieves in the NBA, with 16 steals in his last seven games, and has averaged a robust 13.6 PPG, 5.9 APG, 4.7 RPG, 2.3 BPG and 0.6 BPG during that stretch. Fultz is available in 74.9% of ESPN fantasy leagues.
The Magic run a rare four forward lineup, made possible by 6-foot-10 Franz Wagner’s ability to play shooting guard. Wagner is eligible at three different positions (SG, SF and PF), and his value on court is generally greater than his name recognition.
In his last 11 games, representing almost the entire last month, Wagner has put up 21.1 PPG (45.2 FG%, 90.5 FT%), 3.9 RPG, 2.5 APG and 2.1 3PG, yet he’s not even universally rostered (available in almost 15% of ESPN leagues) and makes a good trade target.
And don’t forget about Franz’s brother Moritz Wagner (available in 85.6% of leagues) and Bol Bol (available in 39.1% of leagues), both of whom have been starting and producing for the last month-plus. Wagner was widely expected to go back to the bench when Wendell Carter Jr. returned from injury, and perhaps he will, but Carter has been back on limited minutes for two games and Wagner has continued to start.
He averaged 15.1 PPG (52.8 FG%, 97.5 FT%), 7.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.3 SPG and 1.2 3PG in his last 11 games, and is on a streak of seven straight games scoring in double figures. Bol has been starting even longer, is expected to continue to do so, and has averaged 12.4 PPG (58.9 FG%, 75.0 FT%), 7.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 0.8 3PG and 0.6 SPG in 30 starts this season.
Meanwhile, the PIstons have been just as full of value as the Magic, even after 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham went down for the season with a leg injury.
In Cunningham’s absence, Bojan Bogdanovic has stepped up as the primary scoring option for the Pistons. In the 23 games he’s played since Cunningham’s injury, Bogdanovic has averaged 21.7 PPG (48.1 FG%, 89.9 FT%), 3.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.1 3PG and 0.7 SPG in 31.3 MPG. Per Caesar’s, his line for Wednesday is set at 21.5 points, a mark he’s gone over in six of his last eight games. Bogdanovic just doesn’t have the name recognition to match his value, either in fantasy hoops or NBA betting, so is consistently good value.
The other Piston that has benefited the most from an increased role is Killian Hayes, still available in 73.2% of ESPN leagues despite putting up 13.1 PPG, 7.1 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.5 3PG and 1.3 SPG in 30.1 MPG in his last 16 games. Hayes has the keys to the Pistons’ office on a nightly basis, even more than rookie No. 5 overall pick Jaden Ivey (available in 30.4% of leagues), who has been consistently productive all season (15.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.4 3PG, 1.1 SPG) and seems to be stepping up of late (19.4 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.4 3PG and 1.2 SPG in last five).
Speaking of impressive Pistons rookies, 19-year old Jalen Duren (available in 82.9% of leagues), the youngest player in the NBA who was expected to need to add polish to his game this season, has moved into the starting lineup and has been doing his best Andre Drummond impression. In his last 10 games, Duren has averaged 12.4 RPG, 10.5 PPG (68.8 FG%, 77.3 FT%), 1.3 APG, 0.6 BPG and 0.6 SPG in 29.9 MPG.
The bottom line here: in both fantasy basketball and sports betting, teams like the Pistons and Magic are often sources of undervalued players. Because the team is bad, many casual fans don’t pay as much attention to their players as they could. Their name recognition is relatively low, which leads to better trade value and routinely lower-than-they-should-be scoring props.
Both of these are rebuilding teams, with many young players who are going to play heavy minutes on a nightly basis regardless of team results. Both teams rank among the bottom quarter of the league in team defensive rating, which means that they’re almost always playing from behind and thus putting as many points on the board as possible. It’s a win-win-win for fantasy hoops managers, DFS players and NBA bettors.
So, make sure you go beyond the names you know, beyond the teams that are always on TV or that earn all the SportsCenter highlights, when making fantasy basketball and betting moves. Make sure you’re checking out our Daily Notes each day and pay attention to the names that end up in those articles on a consistent basis.
If you do, you’ll find players from the Magic and Pistons on there on the daily, and paying attention to their stories can lead you to fantasy, DFS and chalk success.